Broken Toe Management

How do I know I have a broken toe?

The first signs of a broken toe will be pain and a bruised, discolored toe may occur shortly after the initial trauma. Most toe fractures are the result of direct trauma of some kind.

Please note: "Fracture" is a term commonly used in place of "broken" and vice versa when talking about broken bones of any kind.

Stubbing toes and dropping things on them is extremely common. But, how do you know if it's a fractured toe?

Most broken or fractured toes will be swollen, red/or bruised, inflamed and painful (often more so at night). It is always best to x-ray a foot following trauma to evaluate the damage.

Occasionally, broken foot bones may occur as a result of systemic disorders such as osteoporosis. For this reason evaluation is important especially when there seems to be no obvious history of trauma which has caused the fractured toe.

What is the best way to treat a toe fracture?

Fractured toe treatment involves:

  • Elimination of pressure from shoes/boots.
  • Splinting is often best to encourage healing with correct toe alignment. Your podiatrist can advise you on this following x-ray evaluation. Just look under 'P' in the Yellow Pages or visit "Find a Podiatrist" to find a podiatrist close to you.
  • Surgery is rarely necessary unless the fracture has severely distorted the shape of the toe or where skin penetration by the toe bone has occurred.
  • How can you prevent toe fractures?

    Toe fractures are best prevented by:

  • Wearing appropriate safety shoes/boots. This includes the use of steel toe safety shoes or a steel toe work boot where boots are required;
  • Ensuring protective footwear is worn whenever lifting or working with heavy objects or machinery;
  • See your Podiatrist or Doctor if you notice any sudden onset of pain, discomfort, redness or swelling of the foot or the toes.

  • For more information on broken toe treatment and foot pain please visit our Foot Pain page.

    Broken Toe FAQ's


    I dropped a heavy object on my big toe this morning. It hurts like crazy, and i went to get an X-ray because i thought it may be broken, but it turned out to be ok. It hurts really bad, but it doesnt look bad at all. there isn't even much swelling or bruising. there is a purple spot right at the first knuckle of the toe, where the pain is coming from, but thats all. Is there something else other than a fracture that could be wrong with it?


    Severe bruising is likely and often takes some weeks or even months to subside.

    If in doubt, see your Podiatrist.


    Several years ago, while living in remote WA I kicked my little toe on my left foot very badly on the lounge leg. My toe went purple and stuck out from my foot at a 90 degree angle. My husband taped it to my other toes to hold it in place. I kept it taped for several weeks, but to this day it is still stuck out at a right angle from my foot and constantly has a dull ache that never seems to go away but is much worse when I wear shoes. Because of the way it sticks out I seem to catch it on things regularly, and it makes wearing 90% of shoes impossible.


    Sounds like a nasty broken toe never healed correctly. In this case, surgery may provide the only satisfactory outcome. See your Podiatrist for further advice.


    I missed a step and had sandals on. Went for x-rays and the number 4 and 5 toes are broken. It has been 2 months and it is still swollen but only on my ankles. I walk on it because it is my right foot and I can't do nothing with my left foot. I don't know how to stop the swelling and the heat. Thank you.


    Broken toes can take many months to heal especially if shoes are placing pressure on them. See your podiatrist for further evaluation to ensure normal healing is occurring.

    WARNING : This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional podiatric advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a Podiatrist, your Doctor or your foot specialist.

    Still have a question about your foot problem, leg pain or you just need some footwear advice?

    Visit our Foot Problems page and ask us a question about your specific problem. We'll do our best to help.

    To find a Podiatrist or Foot Doctor near you visit our Find a Podiatrist page and click on your country.

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